Inner  Frontier
Fourth Way Spiritual Practice

 

Inner Work


For the week of: June 21, 2004


Self-Discipline

Substance abuse, watching too much TV, overeating, gossip, and other forms of self-indulgence rob us of the energy and will we need for our inner work. Self-discipline involves imposing moderation on our immoderate behaviors and serves our spiritual aspirations in at least three ways. First, instead of unnecessarily wasting the energy, we conserve it, making it available for our practice. Second, self-discipline builds a steadiness and strength of will, which directly translates into enhancing our presence. The will to persist in limiting our actions becomes the will to persist in being present. Third, the sacrifice of giving up a personal indulgence in order to better serve the higher can prepare us to empty ourselves of egoism.

After surveying all the ways we waste our inner energies, we may be tempted to change everything at once. The result of overreaching, of trying to change too many things or even one deeply ingrained behavior, is nearly always failure. We might give up and become even more self-indulgent or we might enter the useless cycle exemplified by yo-yo dieting. Instead, we start with one small behavior. After mastering that, we move on to tackle other indulgences, one at a time, without reverting to our old immoderate habits.

Watch out for becoming obsessed with self-discipline to the point of forgetting that self-discipline is a means toward purification and presence, and not an end in itself. Obsession with self-discipline and its difficulties occurs when our ego takes over the discipline project. We need to be moderate even in our efforts at self-discipline.

For this week, look at the ways you overindulge to the detriment of your inner work. Choose one immoderate behavior and temper it.

 


     

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